North and central India continued to reel under scorching conditions on Sunday as a slight dip in mercury levels from Saturday failed to bring any respite to the people with 15 more deaths reported from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, taking the toll this summer to 68.
Five heat-related deaths were reported from Uttar Pradesh where extreme heat conditions coupled with prolonged power-cuts, especially in rural areas, made life unbearable.
While two persons died in Fatehgarh, one death each was reported from Basti, Banda and Lalitpur. Cases of diarrhoea in the state are also on the rise, officials said.
Capital Lucknow had a high of 38.4 degrees Celsius.
In Rajasthan, four beggars were found dead. Two bodies each were found in Sadar area and Sanganer town, police said.
Roads in the entire region wore a deserted look with few vehicles plying and people preferring to remain indoors on a Sunday. In the evening, people were seen thronging air- conditioned malls and cooler places.
Delhi continued to be in the grip of searing heat with the mercury touching 44 degrees, four notches above normal but a dip of 0.9 from yesterday's 44.9. The minimum in the capital was 34 degrees, five units above normal.
After a relatively mild May, Delhi has found itself in the grip of a scorching heat wave since beginning of June, with temperatures staying above 40 degrees over the last week.
In Punjab, five deaths were reported from Amritsar and Moga. A woman died due to sunstroke in Damoh district of Madhya Pradesh as the heat wave swept across the state.
The mercury touched 45.5 degrees in Khajuraho and 45.1 in Nogaon town of Chhatarpur district. In Gwalior it was 44.8 while Bhopal had a high of 41.1 degrees.
68 people have died in North and Central India since the onset of tormenting heat spell. Uttar Pradesh accounted for 45 deaths, Punjab 12, Rajasthan eight, Madhya Pradesh two and Haryana one till now.
The Met office attributed the continued rise in the temperatures to the absence of an upper air cyclonic circulation and dampening of north-westerly winds.
Amritsar in Punjab recorded a maximum of 46 degrees, six notches above normal. The city had yesterday saw mercury zoom to 47.8 degrees, eight degrees above normal.
Hissar in Haryana was the hottest place in the two states with 45.5 degrees against a high of yesterday's 47.9.
Chandigarh had a maximum of 43.8 degrees, which was four degrees above normal but a fall of 1.2 notches from the record high of 45 on Saturday.
There was also no relief from blistering conditions in Rajasthan. Though the highest maximum temperature recorded was nearly three notches below that of yesterday at 46 degrees Celsius in Sriganganagar, relentless heat continued to torment people everywhere in the desert state.
Sriganganagar was followed by Churu (45.8), Jaipur (45.2), Kota (44.7), Jaisalmer (43.6), and Ajmer (42.1).
The heat wave also took parts of Himachal Pradesh in its grip as capital city Shimla today recorded the warmest day in the past 12 years. Mercury, which continued its rising trend in the hill resort, soared to 31.5 degrees.
In Hamirpur and Una, maximum temperatures touched 44 degrees Celsius followed by Sundernagar 41 and Bhuntar 38.4.
Today's day temperature at Shimla surpassed that of June 10, 1995 when a maximum temperature of 31.4 degrees Celsius was recorded, Met officials said.